49ers' Kyle Shanahan defends Jimmy Garoppolo amid preseason struggles

49ers' Kyle Shanahan defends Jimmy Garoppolo amid preseason struggles

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan believes Jimmy Garoppolo’s preseason struggles will take care of themselves if his franchise quarterback just gets more playing time. 

In Garoppolo’s first game back from a season-ending ACL injury last September, he went 1-for-6 for zero yards and an interception for a lousy 0.0 passer rating in Monday’s 24-15 win over the Broncos. The week before that, he threw five consecutive interceptions in a practice. 

“That’s all Jimmy needs is just to play football whether he’s coming back from an injury or not,” Shanahan said (via NBC Sports Bay Area). “We thought we were going to get that last year and unfortunately we didn’t. That was out of everyone’s control.

“When he has played, everyone has seen his ability. And everyone knows he’s in that club [of NFL-quality quarterbacks]. And everyone knows he not only has the ability to be in the NFL, but he’s got the ability to be one of the better ones.”

Shanahan explained he wants Garoppolo to play as much as possible in the preseason and into the regular season, including playing him the entire first half of Saturday’s preseason game against the Chiefs, though the team will exercise caution. Shanahan said he doesn’t want Garoppolo out there with a second-string offensive line facing defensive starters. 

“I would like them to get a whole half in,” Shanahan said. “But sometimes halves can be 20 plays and sometimes they could be 45, so it’s more about the play count. I’d like them to get a normal half in. 

“If they do, depending on how you start with the ball how many series you get, if you feel good about it we’d like to not put them back out in the third quarter. But if you don’t feel good and you don’t feel like they got the reps, it’s always an option.” 

Garoppolo acknowledged the preseason has been hard for him, but said he’s ready to move on and look ahead to the next challenge. 

“It’s one of those things you could react two ways to,” Garoppolo said (per NBC Sports Bay Area). “You can crumble up and go into a fetal position and surrender. Or you can go out and fight. We’ve got a locker room full of guys that want to fight, myself included.”

Saturday’s preseason game will add another mental element for Garoppolo as Arrowhead Stadium is the site where he tore his ACL 11 months ago.

“Any time you come back from an injury, there’s a bunch of mental hurdles you’ve got to get over even if you are healthy and feeling good,” Shanahan said. “I’m sure there’s some stuff with it just being eerie going back to the same place.”

Kickoff for Saturday’s preseason game is set for 8 p.m. ET.